Jia Lei1, Morita Kiyohide2, Zhang Lixia3, Zhao Xintong4
1.3Information Research Institute of Science and Technology, Shanghai Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Shanghai 201403, China;
2Department of Intercultural Communication, Komatsu University, Komatsu, Ishikawa 9230921, Japan;
4Graduate School of Agricultural Science, Tohoku University, Sendai 4681, Japan
The number of farmer cooperatives in China increased dramatically after implementation of the Farmer Cooperative Law in 2007. Based on a 6-year tracking investigation of Cooperative A in Zhejiang Province, we employ a descriptive and case study approach to provide an in-depth understanding of the operation status of farmer cooperatives after introduction of the Cooperative Law, and attempt to discover how cooperative directors seek diversified development paths while regarding the farmer cooperative as the basis. This paper finds that obtaining subsidies from the government is one of the main objectives for the establishment of farmer cooperatives. Farmer cooperatives are not operated in accordance with traditional cooperative principals after establishment and there are operational problems, such as the cooperative director holding substantial power over common members and the lack of profit distribution mechanisms. Cooperatives implement diversified business models to achieve greater benefits (e.g. agritourism and fruit stores). Additionally, changes in organizational type from farmer cooperatives to family farms, to align with new policies, has also become increasingly prevalent. Finally, we conclude that most farmer cooperatives in Zhejiang Province are not true cooperatives, existing in name only. Both farmer cooperatives and family farms are Family-controlled Agribusiness Company-like Entities.
Jia Lei is an assistant professor of agricultural economics at Shanghai Academy of Agricultural Sciences, where his research focuses on agricultural cooperatives, agricultural enterprise forms and international agricultural comparative studies. Jia Lei received his Ph.D from Tohoku University of Japan in 2016 and a Master degree from the University of Portsmouth, U.K.